What is suspension? Is it the same as ‘rustication’?
Suspension of status at Oxford effectively enables you to pause all elements of your degree, including residence, academic work and fees.
You may also have heard suspension referred to as ‘interlocation’, ‘intermission’, or ‘rustication’. The latter term has, historically, had negative connotations and ‘suspension’ is the preferred term currently used by the University and Oxford SU.
Around 1,000 Oxford students suspend their studies each year. Most suspensions are a result of short or long term health problems, including mental health difficulties. Other common reasons include bereavement and financial difficulties.
Suspension is sometimes used by colleges in disciplinary cases or to address academic concerns. However, for whatever reason suspension is initiated the process is generally the same.
Is suspension optional?
The vast majority of suspensions are decided jointly by the student in consultation with their college and tutors.
However, it is possible for a college to deny a student’s request to suspend or to enforce suspension against a student’s will. Enforced suspension can happen on academic, disciplinary, or medical grounds.
The term ‘Fitness to Study’ is often brought up in relation to suspension decisions. It is defined by the University as a student’s ability to meet:
- the reasonable academic requirements of the course or programme, and
- the reasonable social and behavioural requirements of a student member (whether resident in College or not) without their physical, mental, emotional or psychological health or state having an unacceptably deleterious impact upon the health, safety and/or welfare of the student and/or other students and/or University or College staff.
The University is able to enforce suspension where the above conditions are not being met. This will usually be determined after consultation with medical professionals.
You have the right to appeal if you feel you are being forced to, or prevented from, suspending. The Student Advice can assist you through this process:
Are there alternatives to suspension?
Suspension is a serious step, often contemplated only after a range of other measures have already been tried.
If your ability to fulfil academic obligations is being affected by health, personal, or financial problems, you are strongly advised to disclose this your college and tutors as early as possible so that appropriate support can be put in place.
For stories from suspended students themselves and an outline of process specifics (from finance to initiating the process), check out the Suspension Information Booklet
from SusCam Suspended Students’ Campaign
Who is SusCam, and how can they help me decide if I want to suspend?
SusCam is Oxford SU’s campaign for suspended students. We lobby for University policy changes to improve the process of suspension and equip students to campaign for change in their college. SusCam also organizes and provides a supportive social network for suspended students, and students considering or returning from suspension.
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